Postgame Report: Ja Morant does it all as Grizzlies rout Lakers 105-88
Key Stat of the Night
- Memphis became the first Western Conference team to defeat the Lakers in a game played outside the city of Los Angeles… The Lakers entered the night 18-0 this season in games played away from STAPLES Center (the Lakers lost a road game on Oct. 22 against the Clippers at STAPLES Center).
Key Run of the Night
- Leading 70-58 in the third quarter, Memphis went on a 16-6 run to take a 22-point lead (86-64) and entered the fourth quarter leading by 20 (86-66).
The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 105-88 on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 17,794 inside FedExForum.
The Grizzlies would use career nights from Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas to halt their five-game losing streak as they knocked off the team atop the Western Conference standings. Memphis got off to a strong start as they outscored Los Angeles 18-6 in points in the paint in the opening period. Nine early points from Morant helped the Grizzlies to a four-point lead after one quarter of play at 29-25. Valanciunas made his presence felt early on, posting a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone. The Grizzlies took command of the game with a 22-6 run, highlighted by a three-pointer from Morant, to stretch the Grizzlies lead to 17 points at 54-37. Morant finished the first half with 16 of his 27 points as the Grizzlies took a 58-46 lead into the halftime break.
The Grizzlies would grow their lead to as many as 22 points at 86-64 following a layup from John Konchar with 53 seconds remaining in the third. Memphis was able to capitalize on miscues from the Los Angeles offense, converting 16 Laker turnovers into 22 points through the first three quarters of play. The Lakers ripped off a 17-6 run to trim the lead to 90-81 with 6:56 remaining in the game following a three-pointer from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Grizzlies immediately responded with a 15-4 run of their own to put the game out of reach as Memphis cruised to a 17-point victory. The Grizzlies entered the night ranked first in the NBA in points in the paint and outscored the Lakers 52-38 in the game, as Memphis improved to 29-31 with the victory.
It was a special night for Morant, who became the second rookie in NBA history to post at least 27 points and 14 assists against the Lakers, joining Oscar Robertson. Morant posted his rookie-leading 11th double-double of the season while shooting a career-high 4-of-6 from three-point range. This marked Morant’s seventh game with at least 20 points and 10 assists this season. Valanciunas posted his 29th double-double with 22 points and 20 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting. With his 20 rebounds tonight, Valanciunas became the first player in Grizzlies history to record 20-plus rebounds in consecutive games. His 45 rebounds over the last two games also set a two-game franchise record, surpassing Zach Randolph’s 42 total rebounds from Dec. 20-22, 2009. Dillon Brooks totaled 24 points (9-24 FG, 3-11 3P) to go with five rebounds in a team-high 34 minutes. The Grizzlies are now 18-3 on the season when Brooks scores 20-or-more points.
LeBron James totaled 19 points (9-19 FG, 3-8 3P), eight rebounds and nine assists to lead the Lakers. Anthony Davis posted 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists on 7-of-12 shooting. Kyle Kuzma added 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes off the bench. Caldwell-Pope totaled 11 points, two rebounds and two assists as the Lakers fell to 45-13 on the season.
The Grizzlies will hit the road for three games beginning with the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. Fans can watch the game on FOX Sports Southeast or listen on 92.9 FM ESPN.
Opening Statement:Great game and effort from our guys on second night of a back-to-back. Tough stretch there in the last five games but so proud of them. I hit them after the game. I said that’s putting our habits that we talked about since Day One on full display tonight. The communication and execution of the game plan, but it was the simple thing of our activity. Our transition defense – we held them 13 fast break points – all the way to a team that was one of the league leaders of second chance points. Jonas Valanciunas was huge for us. [Over] Twenty rebounds in back-to-back nights. We needed that big time against a Lakers lineup that put a lot of big bodies out there. Great offensive rebounders. Different guys stepped up on the defensive end and contributions from some many different guys. We found a way against one of best defensive to get into the paint. I thought our pace was really big for us, and that’s a byproduct of us to having great activity, getting out and into the paint and then shooting 30 threes. We’re not going to put a number on everything, but the fact that our guys in the last couple of games just trusting it and letting it fly. Dillon Brooks knocking down threes in the last couple of games. Ja Morant had big time threes tonight. That’s huge for us. Overall, unbelievable, great team win. Our bench was big for us in small dose but they were big contributions. So very proud of the guys. Big win for us.
On team performance:It was very encouraging I thought as the game went on Ja [Morant] started to recognized the opportunities where he had the space. There were a lot of different situations where he doesn’t have the ball in his hands especially when he’s off the ball. The ball was moving around and how the Lakers were guarding him. Very encouraging sign from him. Other guys just have to keep shooting it and it’ll start falling for us. Tonight was a big step in the right direction. We’ve been seeing that the last couple of games offensively especially defensively. Back-to-back nights were I thought our defense was really good. We didn’t come out on top the other night but obviously tonight it was on full force. The guys attention to detail and activity was the most communication we had all season long. So very proud of them. As I said, the spirits has been good and that carried over to a great performance tonight.
On Ja Morant and Kyle Anderson:I thought early in the game the Lakes were physical on him but he was able to turn the corner and just get enough slivers and our bigs were doing a good job of rolling. As the game unfolded, forced late passes, made couple of floaters here and there, but come fourth quarter, they raised their level, not just on Ja [Morant] but everyone from the entries to denying. When they put two guys on him to create that turnover where it lead to a fast break, we start taking about how we usually execute against the blitz. And the guys were phenomenal in it. Kyle Anderson was big time with his roll, shots and playmaking. Sometimes the unselfish thing to do is just getting rid of the ball and trusting your teammates. So very proud of him for doing that, but that was the evolution over the course of the game. Seeing where the defense was throwing out, where to attack; He was great in attack mode and did big time late just trusting his teammates.
On Lakers’ fourth quarter run:It was great. I know I just said it a moment ago. The positive mentality of these guys are carrying. Nothing has changed with how they are working and approaching the games. It’s been a while since we had to close out a game like that with a lead. So very impressive. It’s the work that they’re putting in every single day and the trust that they have in their teammates. It’s being dialed, focused and channeled all of the things before. That s the experience that we are leaning on at this stage of the season. Great execution. We knew that they were going to make a run. Great execution on the offensive end, but it’s our defensive game plan. Once we got them into the half court, they weren’t getting into the fast break early in that quarter. It was great locked down defense and keeping them off the glass.
On Jonas Valanciunas:Obviously like I said earlier, the Lakers were second in the league in second chance points and No. 1 in offensive rebounding. Tons of credit goes to him but also his teammates too getting extra hits and him coming over a swooping in. That’s great form of paint rim protection with defensive rebounding is huge. To have that two nights in a row with our schemes that we throw out there, for him to play at that level was huge for our defense. It limited Anthony Davis to one-shot possessions. Obviously the first three games they got to the free throw line a lot based off of offensive rebounding. So we kind of limited them there. We kept the off the free throw line, so that was a big factor in the game.
On Dillon Brooks:I think he is finding he’s right balance. We are going to lean on him to score a little bit more but he knows that the most important thing is defense. Another game were he takes on one of the toughest matchups. His competitiveness on LeBron James was fantastic. He sets the tone for us defensively, and I just think that keeps him into a rhythm to help him get out of the funk. We know that he has to be aggressive for us. Teammates are finding him in the right spots. He’s also playmaking and getting the ball out. So its definitely a huge growth opportunity for him in this role.
On the importance on this win:Every game is important; nobody likes losing so it definitely feels good to get back on the winning side. I feel like we had a great performance tonight. We learned from yesterday and tonight we played all 48 minutes and were out there competing every second we were out there.
On keeping composure on this rough patch:We understand there is going to be adversity, bumps in the road, so I mean there is no reason to panic. We are going to control what we can and that’s just how we play on the floor. We were on a losing streak and people were like, “what happened to the Grizzlies?” We just locked in, stayed focused, came out tonight, played a full 48, and came out with a great win that would turn us back around on our home floor. It was definitely great for us. We know we have to keep rolling off this one right here.
On LeBron and Anthony Davis signing his jersey:Definitely a guy I look up to, not just only on the court but off the court as well. Just a great all-around person. He does a lot to help others. He is just a great role model. AD [Anthony Davis] just getting to watch him, he’s a great player and in my eyes he’s the best big to play the game right now. He just does so much on the floor. I talk to Jaren [Jackson Jr.] a lot, I just feel like he can study him just like I study point guards. That is one person he can study. He is good already, and there are not too many categories that he can better in. But it never hurts to just watch film on guys like that, top players in the league, just figuring if you can get somebody’s game or not.
On how big this win was:It was a good win, we weren’t panicking. I won’t say it’s not big, but a lot of people are trying to make it seem that way coming off of a losing streak, they all needed that win. We need to win every game. We are just going to keep working. It definitely was a special win tonight.
On key to the game:Just being on the same page. We had quite a long talk in the locker room after the loss yesterday as a team. We know it’s coming down to the home stretch here. Games are winding down and we have a couple of teams that are right behind us. We just have to clean up a few things. After the talk yesterday, everybody came in here with a different mindset and more energy and it showed out there tonight.
On building off this going into another road trip:Just keeping the same energy that we’ve been having. We’ve been playing together, I feel like. The chemistry is getting better. We just have to keep on the path that we are on. We are on a good path. Everything we have been doing, like today, and leading up to this point, we just have to keep doing.
On going from the G league to being in a playoff race:It wasn’t hard. Being in the position I was in, I already envisioned that happening at some point. When the move happened, it was easy for me to just step right in and be a part of the team.
- Ja Morant posted his rookie-leading 11th double-double of the season with 27 points (10-16 FG) and 14 assists to go with six rebounds.
- Ja Morant, who had 20 points and 11 assists last night against Sacramento, joined Luka Doncic and Trae Young as the only rookies since the start of the 2011-12 season to record at least 20 points and 10 assists in consecutive games.
- Ja Morant became the second rookie in NBA history (Oscar Robertson) to record at least 27 points and 14 assists in a game against the Lakers.
- Ja Morant¸ who has won Western Conference Rookie of the Month three times to start the season, finished the month of February with averages of 18.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 30.7 minutes, playing all 11 contests… Morant led all rookies in double-doubles this month (3) and became the only rookie this season to record a triple-double when he totaled 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Feb. 9 at Washington.
- Jonas Valančiūnas registered his 29th double-double of the season with 22 points and 20 rebounds… Valančiūnas averaged 14.3 rebounds per game in the month of February, a career high for any single month.
- Jonas Valančiūnas, who had a career-high 25 rebounds last night against Sacramento, is the first player in franchise history to grab at least 20 rebounds in consecutive games.
- Dillon Brooks tallied 24 points, his third consecutive game scoring 20 or more after a nine-game streak of being held under 20… He had scored at least 20 points in four straight games before that drought… Memphis improved to 18-3 this season when Brooks scores 20-plus points.
- LeBron James, listed as questionable entering the game with left groin soreness, posted 19 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in 34 minutes.
Fans who want to support the Memphis Grizzlies and purchase 2019-20 Season Tickets can do so by calling (901) 888-HOOP or going online to grizzlies.com. Single Game Tickets are available for purchase at the FedExForum Box Office, ticketmaster.com, online at grizzlies.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX.